While the approved resolution was largely symbolic, Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro fought back tears when he explained why the city’s sanctuary city order was so important.
“It’s really encouraging to see such a united, diverse, group of Jersey City residents who echo the values that the entire city has and I’m proud of all of us,” said Jersey City Ward E Councilwoman Candice Osborne (who was sporting a throwback New England Patriots jersey after losing a bet on Super Bowl Sunday).
Lavarro spoke at length on why he felt it was necessary to take a stand against the President Donald Trump administration, whose controversial immigration order against seven Muslim-majority countries was suspended by a federal judge last week.
“Friday was probably one of the proudest moments … of my life as a councilman here in Jersey City, that the mayor signed an executive order and really standing up for our values here in Jersey City,” he began.
“I know, talking to folks, just how frightened people are by this administration and … it makes me angry, actually like … this upsets [me] to know that this administration to kind of fear has stoked the immigrant communities, throughout communities, in Jersey City.”
Rolando vowed that Jersey City officials would continue to stand up and “keep our families here together” and “fight for our immigrant communities.”
Dozens in attendance, who held a short rally supporting the council measure prior to the meeting, gave the council a standing ovation after the resolution passed unanimously (9-0).
Supporters also chanted “No ban! No wall! Sanctuary for all!” several times before the meeting resumed regular business.
At the rally, Ward B Councilman Chris Gadsden also expressed his thoughts on the resolution.
“When you talk about immigration, I take it real personally. My wife, she traveled all the way from Guyana became a citizen of the United States, and to protect the rights of immigrants, people coming over here, it’s like so important to me,” he said.
“So in this recent climate, where people are talking about building walls, people talking about deporting people and all the rest of that stuff, it’s real inhumane.”
At the same meeting, Juan Cartagena, Ahmed Shadeed, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City and Hamel Vyes were named to the immigrant affairs commission.
Cartagena is the president and general counsel of civil rights legal advocacy group LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Shadeed is president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City and Vyes is an immigration attorney.